Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Legal History: Crime and Punishment Research Guide

This guide details primary English and American resources on the history of crime and punishment.

Commentaries on the Law

A. Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England

Blackstone's Commentaries is often the first place one will look for an explanation of English law. There are over 80 editions of Blackstone's Commentaries in the Law Library. Most often, it is the first English edition, the first American edition, or Tucker's edition (see below) that is needed. The reprints are listed here, as well as a few of the best editions in Special Collections. Some American editions are important to use if one is doing research on American and English cases in Blackstone. They are still in the stacks under the call number KF385. B55, and quite a few are available in media on microfiche. In some cases, a specific edition is needed. There is a finding aid to all the editions (reprints, microfiche or original) of Blackstone's Commentaries available in Special Collections. A few editions are available in full print and keyword searchable on the web, such as

KD660.B4 1978
Blackstone, William. Commentaries on the Laws of England. 4 vols. Reprint ed. of London: W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1783. New York: Garland, 1978.

KD660.B52 1765 1979
Blackstone, William. Commentaries on the Laws of England. 4 vols. Facsimile reprint ed. of the 1st ed. of 1765-69. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979.

KD660.B4 1786 Quarto
Blackstone, William. Commentaries on the Laws of England. 4 vols. 3rd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1768.

KD660.B4 1771 Quarto Rdg. Rm.
Blackstone, William. Commentaries on the Laws of England. 5 vols. 1st American ed. Philadelphia: Robert Bell, 1771.

KF385.B55 1965r
Blackstone, William. Blackstone's Commentaries, With Notes of Reference to the Constitution and Laws of the Federal Government of the United States and of the Commonwealth of Virginia. 5 vols. Edited by St. George Tucker. Buffalo, N.Y.: Dennis & Co., 1965

Reprint of 1st American ed.: Philadelphia: William Young Birch & Abraham Small, 1803. Buffalo, N.Y.: Dennis & Co., 1965. Original edition available in Special Collections: SPECL KD660 .B4 T8 1803 Quarto Rdg Rm.

B. Cokes' Institutes of the Laws of England

Coke's Institutes are in four parts, and known equally well as "Coke's Institutes" or "First Part of the Institutes, Second Part of the Institutes," etc. Cites to Coke's Institutes are usually in the following form: 2 Inst., 1 Inst., etc. The First part of Coke's Institutes is also known as Coke on Littleton, orLittleton's Tenures. Listed here are the reprints, and some of the original editions available in the Library and Special Collections. Microfiche editions are also available in Media.

KD600.C64 1979r
Coke, Edward. Institutes of the Laws of England. 3 vols. Reprint of: London: Society of Stationers, 1628. New York: Garland, 1979. (Parts 1, 3 & 4 only).

International and Foreign Law, also has the 1985 and 1986 reprint eds.

KD600.C64 1670 Folio Rdg. Rm.
Coke, Edward. The First Part of the Institutes of the Laws of England, or a Commentarie Upon Littleton. 8th ed. London: Society of Stationers, 1670.

KD600.C64 1817 Quarto
Coke, Edward. Institutes of the Laws of England. 7 vols. 17th ed. London: W. Clarke, et al., 1817.

C. Kent's Commentaries

There are over 40 different editions of Kent's Commentaries, many of them available in microfiche. The first edition and its reprint are listed below.

KF385.K433 1971r
Kent, James. Commentaries on American Law. 4 vols. Reprint of 1826-1830 ed. New York: Da Capo Press, 1971.

KF385.K418 1826 Quarto
Kent, James. Commentaries on American Law. 4 vols. New York: O. Halsted, 1826-1830.